HMS Minotaur (1793)

From SpottingWorld, the Hub for the SpottingWorld network...
The shipwreck of the Minotaur, oil on canvas, by J. M. W. Turner
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Minotaur
Ordered: 3 December 1782
Builder: Woolwich Dockyard
Laid down: January 1788
Launched: 6 November 1793
Honours and

Participated in:

Fate: Wrecked, 22 December 1810
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Courageux class ship of the line
Tons burthen: 1723 tons (1750.6 tonnes)
Length: 172 ft 3 in (52.50 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 47 ft 9 in (14.55 m)
Depth of hold: 20 ft 9½ in (6.3 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship

74 guns:

  • Gundeck: 28 × 32 pdrs
  • Upper gundeck: 28 × 18 pdrs
  • Quarterdeck: 14 × 9 pdrs
  • Forecastle: 4 × 9 pdrs

HMS Minotaur was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 6 November 1793 at Woolwich.[1] She was named after the mythological bull-headed monster of Crete.


The ship fought at the Battle of the Nile in 1798, engaging the Aquilon with HMS Theseus and forcing her surrender, an operation that cost Minotaur 23 sailors dead and 64 wounded.[2]

In May 1800, Minotaur served as the flagship of Vice-Admiral Lord Keith at the siege of Genoa.[2]

She was present at the landings in Aboukir Bay during the invasion of Egypt in 1801 where she lost a total of three men killed, and six wounded.[3]

In May 1803, whilst in company with His Majesty's Ships Thunderer and Albion, she captured the French frigate Franchise.[2]

Minotaur was present at the Battle of Trafalgar under Captain Charles John Moore Mansfield, where she was instrumental in capturing the Spanish ship Neptuno, although Neptuno's crew recaptured recaptured her in the storm that followed the battle.[2][4]

HMS Minotaur served as the flagship of Rear-Admiral William Essington at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1807.[2]

On 25 July 1809, Minotaur was involved in an action off Fredrickshamn in the Grand Duchy of Finland, Russia (present–day Hamina, Finland). Minotaur and the other ships of Captain Charles Pater's squadron, commanding from Princess Caroline, contributed a total of 17 boats to attack four Russian gunboats in the harbour, carrying out three of them.[3]


Whilst sailing from Gothenburg to Britain, she struck the Haak Bank on the Texel off the Netherlands in the evening of 22 December 1810, after becoming separated from her consorts, HMS Plantagenet and HMS Loire. She rolled on her side rapidly, where waves dismasted her and pounded her hull which began to split. Prior to the roll, 110 of her crew had taken to her boats and soon reached shore, where they informed the Dutch authorities of the disaster. Another 20 survivors were rescued by a pilot vessel.[5] The authorities placed the survivors under custody and refused to dispatch more rescue vessels until the following morning. The rescue party found however that apart from four men who reached shore by clinging to wreckage, no survivors remained on the vessel or in the surrounding water, with the death toll being between 370 and 570.[3][5] All survivors were taken to France as prisoners of war.[5]

Three and a half years later, when the prisoners were released, the customary court martial decided that the deceased pilots were to blame for steering the ship into an unsafe position, having misjudged their location by over 60 miles because of the weather.[3] The Dutch authorities were criticised for their failure to despatch rescue boats sooner by some of the survivors, including Lieutenant Snell, who gave examples of 'how easy it would have been for the Dutch admiral in the Texel to have saved, or to have shown some wish to have saved, the remaining part of the crew.'[6] Reports from the Dutch chief officer of the marine district of the North coast indicated that two boats were sent out to the examine the wreck site on the morning of 23 December, but were prevented from approaching by the wind and seas.[6] Maritime historian William Stephen Gilly concluded that 'There is not the slightest doubt but that, had the Dutch sent assistance, the greater part of the ship's company would have been saved.'[6]


The sinking was depicted by the famed landscape painter J. M. W. Turner, though the subject was not originally the Minotaur, but a generic 'transport ship'. Turner had been producing sketches in preparation for the painting as early as 1805, but by the time he had completed the painting in 1810, the recent wreck of the Minotaur was a subject of much discussion, and the painting was named to capitalise on this public interest.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p180.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 HMS Minotaur built 1793. Retrieved 2 November 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Ships of the Old Navy, Minotaur.
  4. All the Woods - Minotaur. The Woodland Trust. Retrieved 2 November 2008.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Kroniek der Zeemacht, HMS Minotaur.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Gilly, Narratives of Shipwrecks, pp. 158-9.
  7. The Wreck of the Minotaur by J.M.W. Turner. Retrieved 2 November 2008.


  • Gily, William Stephen, Narratives of shipwrecks of the Royal navy between 1793 and 1849, compiled from official documents in the Admiralty, with a preface by W.S. Gilly, J.W. Parker: 1850
  • Grocott, Terence, Shipwrecks of the Revolutionary & Napoleonic Eras, Caxton Editions, Great Britain: 2002. ISBN 1-84067-164-5.
  • Michael Phillips. Minotaur (74) (1793). Michael Phillips' Ships of the Old Navy. Retrieved 2 November 2008.
  • Lavery, Brian (2003) The Ship of the Line - Volume 1: The development of the battlefleet 1650-1850. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-252-8.
  • M.A. van Alphen, G.M.W. Acda and A.M.C. van Dissel, Kroniek der Zeemacht: Gedenkwaardige gebeurtenissen uit vijf eeuwen Nederlandse marinegeschiedenis., Bataafsche Leeuw, Amsterdam, 2003. ISBN 9-06707-570-1

ja:マイノーター (戦列艦・初代)